I was always wary of the fairy-tale family, especially the ballyhooed bond between father and daughter. But at first sight of my daughter I knew that I wanted to experience all of the romanticized, storied encounters for myself.

And, I have.

Take a recent, sweet ritual, for example.

When Ella fusses or cries, maybe because she’s tired or hungry, or the dogs won’t stand still while she tortures them, I’ll pick up my little girl and hold her tight. She’ll squeeze my neck and I’ll feel her still baby-soft hair against my cheek as she snuggles her head into my shoulder.

And then she’ll blow her nose, very affectionately, and smear sticky, warm snot all over my clean shirt.

It’s love. Pure love.

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